I’ve made a ton of Iron Kingdoms buildings over the years. Most of them have been distinctly Cygnaran—what I find to be the “generic” Iron Kingdoms style of architecture. No Quarter Magazine #23 contains a tutorial for more Cygnaran-looking structures. For this tutorial, however, I am going to focus on buildings with a distinct Khadoran flare. Khadoran architecture features roofs with a steeper gable, and many of the larger structures are topped with domes or steeples. To further differentiate the Khadoran aesthetic, I imagine more wood and stone being used for supports.
The size of this building might be a little intimidating to the beginner, but the techniques shown here are pretty basic and will work for buildings of any size or shape. You can keep things simple by limiting yourself to a basic roof shape without window boxes or by reducing the size of the structure and amount of added detail.
- ¼˝ foam core
- Pink insulation foam
- ¼˝ styrene L-strips
- ¼˝ square basswood strips
- ¼˝ flat basswood and styrene strips
- 1-2mm thick sheet styrene (plastic card) or cardstock
- 1/8˝ styrene or PVC card
- Hot glue gun
- Snap-off extendable knife
- Steel ruler
- Rafter square or T-square
- Construction adhesive
- Formula P3 Super Glue
- Formula P3 Hobby Knife
- Rotary hand sewing punch
- Formula P3 Modeling Drill & Pinning Set
- Formula P3 Pinning Expansion: 1.90mm (brass rod)
- Formula P3 Modeling Putty
Framing Out the Building
Step 1) The first step is to sketch a concept for the building. While it can sometimes be advantageous to modify the design as you go, I prefer to begin with a clear idea of what I want the finished piece to look like. Illustrations in the Iron Kingdoms World Guide provide some fantastic reference, and it is my primary source of inspiration for building shapes.
Once you have worked out the shape of your building, it is time to frame it out. The bottom of this building will have a stone foundation. A block of pink insulation foam works best for this because it will allow us to apply a stone pattern later. Use ¼˝ foam core to frame out the upper stories of the building. At this stage, the most important thing is that your building be the proper scale.
Step 2) The thickest insulation foam is 2˝ thick. Since that’s a little short for the ground floor, combine a 2˝ sheet and 1˝ sheet of foam to create a block 3˝ tall, with a 4˝x 4˝ footprint.
Step 3) I highly recommend picking up a rafter square or something similar. Using that for measuring and cutting will ensure your corners remain square and prevent the building from being lopsided.
Step 4) First, cut out the side walls, measuring the full height of the building. Mark the center point and then draw on the gable of the building’s roof. By drawing a curved line, you can create a rounded, sloping roof. When attaching the styrene roof panel, it will bend along the curve of the roof gable. Note the ¼˝ gap at the apex of the roof. This is to allow a foam core crossbeam to be added for support.
Step 5) Don’t agonize over drawing each side of the roof exactly even. When cutting the roof, start by cutting one side with a smooth cut accurate to the shape you want. Then use the off-cut as a template to cut the reverse side and the opposite wall’s gable to ensure that everything is equal.
Step 6) You should have two identical wall sections that form the basic shape of the inn. Throughout the building process, check the size of your structure with models for reference. This building is a little tall, but it has a small footprint, so it will stand out as a great centerpiece without being overly imposing on the battlefield’s playing surface.
Step 7) Next, build the smaller connecting portions of the building front and cut a strip for supporting the roof’s apex. You can make these front walls wider for a longer building or the same width as the sidewalls for a more square building. The height of these walls should come to the bottom of the roof’s slope.
Step 8) Before gluing the sections together, flex the foam core so the cardboard surface creases. These creases will show up and resemble cracks in the walls once painted.
Step 9) Use a hot glue gun to attach the wall sections. Cut some small squares and attach them inside corners to ensure that the walls join at proper 90-degree intersections. These squares will also provide structural support to your building.
Step 10) Tip: Attach the front wall to the inside of the side wall (not the reverse) so that the slope of the roof will reach the outer edge of the front wall. Doing the reverse creates a lip that would disrupt the flow of the roof panel.
At this point, the building shape could be considered good to go. To create some different buildings, you can vary the shape of the roof gable or make the buildings taller, shorter, or wider. Another way to adjust the building shape is to add window boxes.
Step 11) Cut the front of the window box first and then make the sides. This window box will extend to the roof, so the sides need to fit over the top of the wall and “into” the roof. When the roof panel is added later, it will fit around the window box. Hot glue these pieces onto the building.
Step 12) To create a bottom panel to the building, place it on a piece of foam core and trace around it. Use this guide to cut out a perfectly fitted bottom. Hot glue it onto the structure.
Detailing the Inn
The exterior needs to be detailed with windows, doors, support beams, iron framework, chimneys, and pipes. This is the stage where you can add some character and make your building stand out.
It is important to consider the building’s function when planning out the details. Windows can make or break your building’s believability. Industrial buildings have large multi-paned windows, shops generally have large storefront plate glass windows, and living quarters have multiple, smaller windows. A factory workshop with only a few double-hung house windows isn’t very convincing or accurate. It needs tall windows, similar to those seen on an auto plant, to provide light for the workers inside. Since this building is an inn, it needs to have a lot of windows to create the impression of multiple rooms inside. An inn that looks like it only has one or two rooms isn’t a very effective inn.
Step 13) There are a number of companies that make plastic windows for model railroads. O-Scale windows are the most accurately proportioned for 28mm miniatures. Model railroad windows are usually open, meaning you’ll have to put clear plastic “glass” behind them. You’ll also have to cut into the side of the building to fit the window in place, which might be more work than it’s worth on a solid building with no interior detail.
Step 14) Scratch building your windows is a great way to create some unique shapes and sizes. They can be built directly onto the surface of the building. These three windows are examples that I built using plastic strips and basswood.
Step 15) Scratch building multiple windows is tedious work, so it can be beneficial to build a few different styles and make copies in resin. If you build the windows directly onto a piece of plastic card, you can add side walls to create a mold box and then fill it with RTV silicone. The silicon mold can then be used to cast enough resin windows to cover all of your buildings. No Quarter Magazine #35 talks about this a little more in the Protectorate Temple Terrain Building article.
Step 16) Whichever method you use to create your windows, plan out where they will fit on the surface of your building and mark the placement.
Using basswood and plastic strips to create a framework of wood and metal beams serves two purposes. First, it adds to the believability of the structure. Second, it hides all the joins in the foam core walls.
Step 17) Use basswood strips about ¼˝ square and ¼˝ flat and L-shaped styrene strips to create the supports beams.
Step 18) Attach the basswood beams around the base of the building and vertically along the inner corners of the window boxes. Use Formula P3 Super Glue to allow the parts to set more quickly and reducing drying time. The Super Glue will also hold up better in the long run, creating less wear and tear on the terrain.
Step 19) With your hobby knife, distress the edge of the wood by cutting small nicks and chips. This step can be done before or after the wood is attached. My preference is to attach the strips and then quickly go around the building scraping the wood with my knife. The vertical beams in the inner corners, however, need to be distressed before attaching them to the structure because. Once they’re attached, it is difficult to get a knife into those recesses.
Step 20) It’s time to add the wood crossbeams for the upper floor and the vertical L-strips on the outer corners. Attach the first story windows and measure where the floor bream will be. Cut the styrene L-strips to this height. Note that the windows are shorter than they appeared above. This is because I cut them down to comfortably fit three floors on the upper portion of the building.
Step 21) Before attaching the styrene, use a rotary sewing punch to add rivets to the strips. Punch the inside so that the rivets pop out on the outside of the L-strip.
Step 22) Glue the vertical L-strips in place on the corners. Then, use those as a guide to attach the horizontal crossbeam for the upper story. Note that the window boxes do not get these treatments.
Step 23) Using the same steps as for the first story, add the windows, corners, and crossbeams for the upper story. Be sure to bevel the edges of the crossbeams to accommodate the slope of the roof.
Step 24) Attach riveted L-strips to the corners of the window boxes. Distress the “metal” corner strips similarly to the wood beams. One of the side walls doesn’t get windows; this wall will be covered with the chimney and steam pipes.
Sheet Metal Roof
Roofs are made of different materials: shingles, thatch, sheet metal. I prefer riveted, sheet metal roofs because it really ties into the Iron Kingdoms aesthetic. For the metal roof, you need a few sheets of 1-2mm thick card. If you can find some suitably thick and flexible cardboard, it will suffice. Styrene card, however, is sturdier than cardboard and can be bent along the curve of the roof gable without fear of it creasing.
Step 25) Before gluing anything to the roof, cover the exposed edges of the foam core with construction adhesive and allow it to dry thoroughly. The coating of construction adhesive will enable you to super glue the card to the edge without the exposed foam dissolving. Super glue will set up quickly, allowing you to build the roof in a few minutes.
Step 26) Measure and cut the shape of the roof. Allow for about a ¼˝ overhang on the sides, and a ½˝ overhang at the bottom. Depending on the complexity of the roof, it is often beneficial to make the roof panel a little larger and trim down the excess after test fitting it.
Step 27) Mark some guide lines on the roof panel and cut out a rectangle to fit around the walls of the window box.
Step 28) Double check the fit and glue both of the main roof panels in place.
Step 29) With the main panel of the roof in place, it’s time to build the roofs for the window boxes. Fold a piece of paper and fit it over the window box. Crease the edges where they contact the edge of the window box and the roof panel. By using paper, you can easily make creases and adjustments to ensure an accurate fit. Use the creases as your guide to cut out the paper roof and double check the fit on the building.
Step 30) Use the paper roof as a template to cut out card roof panels. Card stock, rather than styrene, is better suited for this part. With the back of your hobby knife, score a line along the apex to allow the roof to fold without tearing or wrinkling.
Step 31) Cover the apex of the roof with a styrene I-beam. Ensure that the sides of the I-beam fit over the roof panels.
Step 32) To create the riveted seams on the roof, cut some ½˝ squares from 1-mm thick styrene card. Use the sewing punch to put rivets on them. Fit these squares on the corners of the roof, and use thin strips of styrene to form the horizontal and vertical joins. Be sure to punch the rivets in the strips before gluing them to the roof.
Step 33) Here you can see the finished roof. The strips create the illusion of smaller panels that have been joined together to create the roof. The apex of the main roof has been covered with an I-beam and the smaller apexes of the window boxes have styrene rod glued into the V-shaped gap between the plastic strips.
With the main body of the inn finished, it’s time to attach the foam base we constructed earlier and add the chimney.
Step 34) Before attaching the foam foundation, texture it to look like a stone structure. Start by slicing the stone shapes into the foam with a fresh hobby knife blade. It’s easiest to draw the horizontal lines and then add the vertical lines. Once the stones have been cut in, use a pencil to press in the cut grooves between the stones.
Step 35) With the stone outlines in place, use a soft eraser and your thumb to press in some of the stones. The knife slices will make it easier to press in the stones. The desired effect is an uneven surface that will allow individual stones to show up when drybrushing. Once the foundation stones are finished, use construction adhesive to attach the foundation to the bottom of the building.
Step 36) Cut the chimney out of pink foam and fit it to the back of the building. Because the inn has an overhang, I found it easier to cut a large block for the bottom and a straight block for the chimneystack, rather than attempting to fit a single shape to the building’s contour. If your building has straight, vertical sides you can cut a single piece for the chimney.
Step 37) Trace where the chimneystack meets the bottom portion and slice those parts off at an angle. Then, mark and slice off the excess to create a square-shaped bottom to the chimney.
Step 38) You’ll notice that due to the wood support beams and the roof overhang, the chimney does not sit flush against the side of the building. This is easily overcome by adding a thin slice of foam as a spacer.
Step 39) Add a stone texture in the same manner as the foundation. For the chimney, keep the size of the stones smaller. Then attach the chimney with construction adhesive. Use masking tape to hold the chimney in place. Once the adhesive is dry, coat the pink foam areas with a wash of watered down wood glue. The glue, once dry, will create a shell that will make the foam a little more durable.
Step 40) Here you can see the finished chimney and foundation. The foam has been coated with wood glue, and I have filled in a few of the gaps with wood filler putty.
All that remains is to add the extra details that will make this building stand out as a Khadoran inn set in the Iron Kingdoms. This includes steam pipes, doors, support beams, and faction flourishes. This is where the use of model parts comes into play and really adds to the believability of the piece.
Step 41) Use a piece of thin card as the backing and assemble the door with strips of basswood and hand punch-riveted styrene strips. For the handle, use the Thunderhead Piston with the red portion clipped off. Clip the backside of the small sphere flat so it will sit securely on the styrene strip. Use 1.90mm brass rod for the hinges.
Step 42) Once the parts are glued in place, trim away the excess backing and attach it to the building with construction adhesive.
Step 43) To make the angled support brackets under the top portion of the building, cut some square basswood with 45-degree angles on each end. Cut small squares of styrene card and rivet punch them. Glue one end of the basswood to the styrene square and place a small, riveted strip of thin styrene card over the join to create a “metal” wall anchor.
Step 44) Glue these in place on the building. Use super glue for the top end, and use construction adhesive for the bottom wall anchor that attaches to the foam stonework. Be sure to make some longer supports to go under the window boxes.
Step 45) Cut some strips of thin styrene card, about ¼˝ wide and long enough to wrap over and around the chimney. Fold each strip around the corners of the chimney and leave two small flaps at the ends. Punch the end flaps with rivets and then super glue the strips over the chimney to create “metal” brackets holding the stonework against the building.
Step 46) Use the Behemoth Stacks for the chimney top. A great solution for adhering the metal part to the foam and for adding stability is to pin a 1.90mm rod into the base of the stacks. Cut a square of 1/8˝ styrene or PVC card slightly larger than the foam chimney top. Super glue the stacks to the top of the card with the brass rod running through the center and use construction adhesive to attach the card to the chimney top. The brass rod will run down through the center of the foam chimney, and will help keep it from cracking off. The card top will prevent the corners of the foam from chipping. Distressing the edge of the card will give it the appearance of a stone slab atop the chimney.
Pipes and Stacks
In the previous blog, I recommended a few parts for this terrain piece. I added in a few more as the project grew. Flexible drinking straws, styrene tube, and brass rod make up the majority of pipes, along with thin styrene card for support brackets.
Step 47) The Behemoth Chimney can be used to make a smokestack on the side of the roof. Glue it in place and use Formula P3 Modeling Putty to form a small attachment pipe at the bottom.
Step 48) Bendable straws are great for making smokestacks. Attach a few pieces together and plug the top end with modeling putty. When the putty has dried, drill a hole in the end, and use this to pin the Deathjack Chimney #1 in place.
Step 49) To make a solid attachment point, cut a vertical slot in one side of the straw and insert a thick strip of styrene. Cut a strip of thin styrene to the same width and wrap this around the straw, gluing it overtop of the thicker strip to form a support tab. Be sure to rivet punch the thin strip before gluing it in place. Cut a slot into the side of the roof, insert the support tab, and super glue it in place. Insert the bottom end of the smokestack into the side of the chimney.
Decorate the building with Khadoran iconography. Banner tops, shields, and flags are all very useful for this. Conversely, you could give the structure a Cygnaran flare with Cygnus emblems, banners, and lightning rods.
Step 50) Cover the end of the roof gable with an Iron Fang Pikemen Trooper’s Shield. Clip off the bottom portion to create a more unique shape. Epic Irusk’s Flag is a great part for terrain. Remove Irusk’s hand and use a 1.90mm bit and brass rod to attach a flagpole. Insert the brass pole through the roof gable at an angle, but don’t glue it in place.
Step 51) Spare badges can be used as icon plaques on the architecture. Rivet punch the perimeter of a 50mm base, and glue the icon in the center. If you don’t want to cannibalize your tournament pins, you can cut symbols out of styrene card.
Step 52) The inn needs a proper sign. Cut a sign post from square basswood. Insert a brass rod into the end of the sign. This rod will be used to pin the sign to the building. Drill two more lengths of brass rod through the signpost. Leave the ends visible at the top to represent the bolts attaching the sign. Super glue some strips of basswood to each side. As with the flag, don’t glue the sign to the building yet so it can be painted separately.
The completed building is ready to be painted.
Conclusion & Contest
These techniques can be used on buildings of all shapes and sizes. Multiple steam pipes and chimneys can give a building a more industrial appearance, like that of a factory. An older building could feature more stonework and different kinds of stones for a patchwork, repaired appearance. The possibilities are limitless.
The contest this time around is pretty straightforward: Create a building suitable for the Iron Kingdoms that incorporates some of the techniques featured in this tutorial. Send in pics of your finished creations to email@example.com and whichever one I like the best will win the original Khadoran Inn I built for this blog.
Photos of the contest entries are due by the end of the day May 16th (that’s midnight, May 17th). The winner will be announced the week following the entry deadline.
I think this blog sets a record for length, so the next one will be a little simpler. I’ll show you how to make some great looking minefields using a handful of Halfjack Mine Markers.
‘Til next time!